Self-Care for Trauma Healing
As a Trauma Informed Public- Educator and an individual with a diagnosis with CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), I can honestly say that going through the trauma healing process (still at it, btw) and working in a resilient community has required an accute understanding of what I needed to stay engaged in life as I went down this healing path for myself. Whether or not you work with individuals who have experienced trauma or not, these suggestions are for anyone that who life has been touched by toxic stress or trauma in some capacity and have taken the road to deeper healing. This is a modified self-care routine that has been essential to me during my own trauma healing process as I also worked professionally as a trauma steward in the public school system.
Setting Realistic Expectations
What people didn’t tell me about going through trauma therapy was how realistic I was going to have to be with loved ones and myself about what I could offer them in the process. Exploring painful memories from your past takes a lot of extra energy. I found myself not having the extra physical or emotional energy to help my friends or family move or hold safe emotional space for them. However, I knew I could show up to my friends and family in ways that simultaneously filled me up as well (hiking, gardening, yoga and photography).
Pay Attention to Gut Health
Stress impacts our gut health. When our bodies are already trying to heal from years of operating in fight, flight and/or freeze, it usually takes a toll on our gut. If you feel you have the resources, I highly suggest seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor to support your body in healing from the impact of long term toxic stress and trauma.
Moving Your Body with Purpose
As you go through the trauma healing process, it’s extremely important to move your body with purpose each day. For me, moving my body with purpose everyday, whether it be yoga, bike riding, taking a walk, running, martial arts., etc. These purposeful movements invited me to pay attention to the way my body felt as I moved. My workout routine all of sudden became an exercise in listening to paying mindful attention to my body. I used my daily yoga and indoor rock climbing routine to help me notice new ways that my body felt as it moved purposefully through one movement to the next. I would take time to pay attention to different sensations in my body as I did each activity.
Be Close to Nature
I found myself very attracted to hiking as I started the trauma healing process. Being immersed in nature and connecting to the rhythms of the world helped me understand that the process of trauma healing reflects the very process of nature. Caterpillars and trees consistently shed old looks and forms that no longer serve them for upgraded versions or evolved versions of themselves. So the process of trauma- healing always felt in line with the flow of life in that same way.
So if you find yourself in the midst of this process like so many of us do, hold yourself tight and remember that healing is bad ass.
In the words of Audre Lorde...
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”